Do you own a supply of Vetrap in just about every color of the rainbow? Do you have your veterinarian on speed dial? Could you own stock in Banamine and Bute? Do you whisper to your horse as you turn him out, “make good choices, buddy”? Have you had way too many sleepless nights spent tossing and turning with worry as you imagine your horse in precarious situations? Then chances are that you are the proud owner of an Accident-Prone Horse (or APH as I like to refer to them as).
The thing about APH’s is that they like to disguise themselves as 17-hand dappled gray 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, as I found out the hard way. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him as he stepped (ok, awkwardly shuffled) off the trailer at the horse rescue that I was working at. My jaw dropped, and I knew that I needed him in my life. Soft white feet? Loses weight when the wind blows? Sold! I guess I should have read the warning signs when he proceeded to both lose a shoe and mildly colic the first week I owned him, but as they say, love is blind. I justified it by telling myself that because my other horse was a very easy keeper, “they would even each other out.”
Over the years there were many “typical” injuries; an abscess here, a puncture wound there. He gave me a heart attack one day by napping with his head curled around the base of a tree. Somehow, he even managed to get a severe case of Scratches during a drought one summer. He cut his nose on the license plate of my horse trailer while quietly tied to it. Every winter he waits until the cold really settles in to grow any sort of winter coat, so I have to bundle him up with several layers and hoods until he finally sprouts it. When I moved him to a new barn and turned him out for the first time, he awkwardly trotted out, tripped over a rock, somersaulted, and a shoe went flying through the air. The trainer chuckled and looked at me, “That’s your event prospect?” Most recently he was showing off for his friends and reared up, lost his balance, and fell on his hip. He was so shocked that someone had pulled the rug right out from underneath him!
Thank goodness for great supplements, patient farriers, double pairs of bell boots, and wine.
He’s put me through my paces many times, but I think I realized the true extent of his exceptional APH abilities when he swallowed a bee. Yup, you read that right. I went out to get him one day and he appeared as if he was choking; almost like something was stuck in the back of his mouth. I called the vet who examined, x-rayed, and tubed before declaring that his throat was swelling up and he had to go to the clinic. He stayed overnight, and they gave him fluids and equine antihistamines, and the next day a scoping found a red bump on his larynx. The vet called me to fill me in and mentioned that “We’ve never seen this before!” When I arrived to pick him up I was shown how to administer a special “horse throat spray” that they had concocted. “Yeah, he’s not a fan,” said the vet tech. “If you can’t squirt it through his nostril just try to open his mouth and spray it as far back as you can.” Um, yeah, you can imagine how well that went.
If all of this has taught me anything, it’s the importance of having a well-stocked first aid kit handy as well as a sense of humor. I will also say that the qualities that may make my horse an APH also make him loveable and endearing. His inquisitive nature and goofy clumsiness are adorable when they aren’t racking up a vet bill. I think he honestly just likes to keep me on my toes, and we’ve developed quite a bond over everything we’ve gone through together. I think if you asked any horse person if it was worth those sleepless nights, every cent we’ve spent, and every heart palpation we’ve had, we’d all say absolutely. One look at those kind, goofy eyes, and I’m done for. When we’re out on the cross-country course with the wind whipping through our hair, I can’t help but be grateful for every ride and every moment I’ve been given with him.
The first thing I do in the morning is look out my window to make sure I see a gray blob out there upright in the field, and I say a silent little prayer in my head every time I go to catch him as I automatically scan every inch of his body. I think in the back of our minds we all know what we sign up for when we chose to relinquish a bit of our sanity and our hearts to our horses, and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
Courtesy of SmartPak